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Thread: Visit to a small foundry in western PA

  1. #1

    Visit to a small foundry in western PA

    I recently visited a small one man foundry in western PA. The man who had run the foundry had passed away 20 years ago. I was contacted by his widow inquiring if I would be interested in any of the foundry equipment/supplies. No one had been in the foundry since he stopped casting years before. It was like stepping back in time. He had made almost all of the foundry equipment himself. He was set up for cast iron, brass, bronze and aluminum. I took some photos of some of the equipment he had in the shop. He had a small blast furnace set up for cast iron. There were several lift out crucible furnaces that could handle anything from #30 crucibles up to #225. He also had a large furnace set up with a cast iron pot for dipping aluminum and bronze out with ladles for smaller castings. Everything was designed to be operated with the help of overhead hoists and a homemade crane system so that you wouldn't have to lift anything by hand. It was really creative and ingenious how the shop was set up to be operated by one person.

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    This was the hoist used to maneuver the ladles under the tap hole of the blast furnace and then over to the pouring area

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    The blast furnace used for the cast iron

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    Two lift out furnaces. Also the large cabinet in the front is a drying oven that the guy used for coremaking and keeping the crucibles dry. The cool part was that he had this piped in such a way that the heat generated from the furnaces was used to heat the oven. He had a homemade system that allowed him to monitor the temp to what he wanted. Pretty cool, and cost saving too.

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    This was the dip out furnace set up. The second photo is the burner and blower. It is set down into a pit so it is hard to see. All of these furnaces, with the exception of the blast furnace. were set up to run on waste oil, or veg oil, or kerosene, or diesel. He had separate tanks behind the shop. He would collect it over the course of the year and just modify the adjustments to the burner to burn whatever he had on hand at the time.

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    There were literally hundreds of wooden matchplates and patterns that the guy had made himself.

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    Homemade rotary tumbler, and homemade sandblasting cabinet
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  2. #2
    Here are a few photos of a few pieces of equipment I picked up while I was there.

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    I bought this muller to replace my current one. The one I was using has been patched, welded, and generally worked well beyond what it should. I got this thing maneuvered into the truck and when I got it home I had a chance to check it out more closely. It is a 3hp motor with a gearbox reduction. It can handle about 150lbs. of sand at a time, which is great. I only have about 800-1000lbs. of sand, so this is plenty big enough to keep up with me while I am trying to work. I have some cast iron wheels that came with this also, but I think I will stick with the solid rubber mulling wheels for now. I have run about 500lbs. of petrobond thru it and it works fine as is. I wonder if the rubber wheels will save some wear and tear on the wear plate on the bottom of the muller. Also the rubber wheels make the whole machine much lighter.

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    I also picked up this tilting ladle gear. The ladle itself is missing, but I can fabricate up what I need with regards to that. This is really nice because it gives you some fine control as you pour. I don't have photos, but I also picked up a large blower, and what I thought was a great find, several large boxes of foundry letters. There were all different fonts and sizes. As many of you know, these can be hard to come by, and expensive. I dealt with a guy that was a friend of the widow, he was really nice, and brought his two young sons to help me load the equipment onto the truck. All the equipment was reasonably priced. I walked away with everything for several hundred dollars. All and all the whole place was really neat to explore.

  3. #3
    Heres a few more photos of the foundry.

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    Check out the size of those crucibles. I cannot imagine attempting to pour something that large on my own without help, regardless of what equipment I had. You can see several of the flasks in the one photo. There were hundreds of these as well in every size you could imagine from several inches to two or three feet square. There is also a shot of the inside of the homemade drying oven. I forgot to mention the guy also made bells. There was a large selection of bell patterns, as well as patterns for harness hardware for horses.
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    Last edited by Junkyard; 12-24-2016 at 03:07 AM.

  4. #4
    wow i bet those crucibles are HEAVY even when they're empty!

  5. #5
    Senior Member r4z0r7o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Junkyard View Post
    Wow, amazing, must be anti-gravity roof trusses that let him store his flasks, stacked on the ceiling...or...maybe that photo is upside-down

    Really cool, thanks for sharing all those pics and the back-story. Would have been really cool to watch him work in there.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, things that are useful are simple."
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by r4z0r7o3 View Post
    Wow, amazing, must be anti-gravity roof trusses that let him store his flasks, stacked on the ceiling...or...maybe that photo is upside-down

    Really cool, thanks for sharing all those pics and the back-story. Would have been really cool to watch him work in there.
    Got it fixed, thanks.......

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufledt View Post
    wow i bet those crucibles are HEAVY even when they're empty!
    I picked up the largest one, it weighed close to 60 or 70lbs. empty...

  7. #7
    Senior Member Robert's Avatar
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    Now that you have this equipment I guessing your foundry looks pretty good also!
    Robert
    "Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right."
    - Henry Ford (1863-1947)

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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    Now that you have this equipment I guessing your foundry looks pretty good also!
    Robert
    I'm not sure how good it looks, but it gets the job done, and thats what matters. The right equipment isn't always necessary, but it makes the work so much easier, and IMO more enjoyable. I have been blessed to run across some great equipment finds over the years. As my foundry needs have grown, so has my equipment.

  9. #9
    WOW what a goldmine of stuff! Before she scraps it, I'm sure some folks on here that live closer would love to have a crack at it. I bet the old guy would like to see his stuff continue on in our kind of setting!
    Visit me: WWW.HandcraftedLanterns.com
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by jagboy69 View Post
    WOW what a goldmine of stuff! Before she scraps it, I'm sure some folks on here that live closer would love to have a crack at it. I bet the old guy would like to see his stuff continue on in our kind of setting!
    I did get permission from the seller to provide his contact information if anyone has an interest in purchasing any foundry equipment. I can pm any interested parties the name and number of the man that I dealt with.

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